Black Bean Enchiladas with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

black bean enchiladas with roasted red pepper sauce

Over Thanksgiving break, the holiday spirit got the best of me and I ate like I didn’t want my pants to fit anymore. Bring on the cream! Pass the butter! Both desserts, please! The truth is that I do want my pants to fit. I like my pants. Anyway, I came home from my five day Oklahoma holiday craving vegetables, but arrived find an empty refrigerator. I made do that night with some sorry-looking avocado smashed on toast and a leftover whiskey cocktail from the last week’s photo shoot (as much as I want my pants to fit, letting avocado and good booze go to waste is a shameful offense).

enchilada ingredients

Developing this enchilada recipe was a high priority when I got back to town, as my initial attempt before the holidays was nothing I’d want to serve others. I knew I wanted to go in a different direction this time. While I usually try to incorporate the most fresh, in-season produce available, I didn’t want to create a recipe that required roasting those tough winter vegetables before stuffing the enchiladas.

avocado and roasted red pepper enchiladas

It occurred to me that if I had more than one mouth to feed after coming home from a holiday, I’d like to have some wholesome recipes that called for pantry and freezer ingredients in my back pocket. So I embraced jarred, roasted red peppers and frozen spinach and corn for this recipe and came up with hearty, produce-packed enchiladas. I’d like to think that those hungry mouths would clamor for this dish any day, not just when the refrigerator is barren. I am thoroughly enamored with the roasted red pepper sauce and resulting dish myself.

vegetarian enchiladas with roasted red pepper sauce

The only fresh ingredients that might necessitate a trip to the store here are cilantro and avocados. I wouldn’t skip them, as the cilantro lends a burst of fresh flavor and the avocados contribute rich creaminess. I have some storage tips to share in that regard. First, store your cilantro in the fridge, with the bunch of cilantro in a small mason jar filled partially with water like you would a vase of flowers. Cilantro will keep well that way for one to two weeks. Choose avocados that still have their little “button” on the smaller end attached. If you can peek under the button and see green, you have a winner. Store the avocado in the refrigerator when it’s close to ripe to slow its ripening. Avocados from Mexico has more tips here.

avocado and cilantro on enchiladas

Black Bean Enchiladas with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce
4.1 from 7 reviews
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Mexican
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
Hearty vegetarian enchiladas that make use of pantry and freezer ingredients. Top with cilantro and avocado for a fresh and vibrant meal.
Roasted red pepper sauce
  • 8 ounces jarred, drained roasted red peppers (mine came in a 12-ounce jar)
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 8 ounces frozen spinach
  • 8 ounces frozen corn
  • 1 14-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained (or 2 cups cooked black beans)
  • 1 7-ounce can diced green chiles, drained
  • ½ cup roasted red pepper sauce sauce
  • 1 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 4 ounces)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Remaining ingredients
  • 8 to 10 corn tortillas
  • 1 cup shredded Jack cheese (about 4 ounces)
  • 3 to 4 avocados from Mexico
  • ⅓ cup chopped cilantro leaves, loosely packed
  • ½ lime, juiced
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and oil a 13x7 or 13x9-inch baking pan. In a food processor or high-powered blender, combine all of the sauce ingredients. Blend until smooth. If you taste the sauce now, you may find by the raw onion flavor overpowering. Don’t worry, it will mellow out thanks to the lime and after spending time in the oven.
  2. In a medium skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil and chopped onion. Sauté for a few minutes, until the onion starts to turn translucent and starts lightly browning around the edges. Add the frozen spinach and corn and cook until warmed through and the juices have mostly evaporated. Add the black beans and green chiles and cook until warmed through. Remove from heat and pour in ½ cup enchilada sauce and feta cheese. Mix and add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Gently warm the tortillas so they don’t break when you roll them. The easiest way to do this is to place them in a stack in the microwave under a damp paper towel and microwave for about 60 seconds. Leave the paper towel on top to keep them warm as you roll. Working one at a time, lump a scant ½ cup filling down the middle of each tortilla and roll snugly. Place it with the seam side down in your baking dish. Repeat with the remaining tortillas, placing each rolled enchilada snugly next to the other until you have used up all your tortillas.
  4. Pour the enchilada sauce down the middle of your row of enchiladas and give the pan some little shakes to help distribute it. Sprinkle the Jack cheese down the middle. Bake the enchiladas for 20 to 25 minutes, until the cheese is melted, the enchiladas are warmed through and the top of the tortillas are just crisp. Let the enchiladas cool for five minutes, during which you can pit, peel and dice the avocados. Combine them in a bowl with chopped cilantro and toss with a big squeeze of lime juice. Divide the enchiladas onto plates, top with a healthy amount of the avocado mix and serve.
  • Recipe created with guidance from The America's Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook.
  • I had enough filling to fill 10 tortillas, but only 8 tortillas came in the package and I ran out of room in my baking dish. I’ll make huevos rancheros for breakfast with the leftovers.
  • You may notice that the baked enchiladas shown have quite a bit of liquid at the bottom of the pan. Although it didn’t seem to detract from the flavor or texture, I went ahead and reduced the amount of water in the sauce to remedy the situation.
  • Spinach, corn and bell peppers are on the dirty dozen list, so buy organic if possible.
  • This meal is gluten-free if you buy gluten-free tortillas.

Disclaimer: This is a working partnership with Avocados from Mexico and Muy Bueno Cookbook and I was compensated for recipe development. Opinions expressed are my own, always. The truth is I love avocados!


  1. says

    I am in LOVE with enchiladas. Love the red pepper sauce spin on enchilada sauce. I will definitely be trying this soon. Why do those corn tortillas look so amazing?? I cannot find good corn tortillas. They’re always super thin + dry.

  2. jaime @ sweet road says

    I love finding ways to incorporate fresh ingredients with ingredients from the pantry that I need to use up. Sometimes when life gets crazy it can be so easy to just heat something up from the freezer or pantry, but it can really pop when you add your own fresh flavors!

    • says

      You’re correct, Amanda. A cup’s worth of shredded cheese should be about 4 ounces, though, because the cheese is no longer in a solid block (the ounces were given by America’s Test Kitchen, I included them in the hopes they would be helpful when readers are buying the ingredients).

      • hws12 says

        We are talking about 2 different measurements here. 4 oz of cheese is weight, and 1 cup (8 oz) is volume. So a block of cheese that weighs 4 oz will have about a cup’s worth of volume when it’s shredded. But it still weighs 4 oz. As Kate says, the weight tells you how much to buy. I think the problem is English!

  3. Kathleen says

    I made this tonight. It was delicious even without the avocados (ours were hard as rocks). We will definitely be adding this to our rotation. Thank you for the recipe.

  4. says

    I came home to an empty freezer too and ended up making some quick stew- I know the feeling. I love anything with avocado and mexican food being my weakest, this is a keeper recipe. the idea of roasted pepper just sound so delicious

  5. says

    These look absolutely delicious! I feel the same way after Thanksgiving, but it’s been so hard to get back to normal with all the holiday cookies, etc these days : )

  6. says


    What a good looking bunch of enchiladas you have for us today. I need to make these for my hubbie – he goes nuts for enchiladas – and I’m a big fan too.

    I’m feeling your pain with the pants-not-fitting thing. This time of year I really go overboard on all the naughty stuff there is to eat.


  7. says

    These are brilliant for those times when opening a can sounds much more appealing than getting deep into cooking. And yet I bet they still taste totally fresh. Cannot wait to make!

  8. Rachel says

    Hey Kate, what’s the dirty dozen list? These look amazing, I look forward to trying them out. Also! My best friend is visiting his lady in Malaysia and needed something to cook for her family so Sweet Potato Burritos it was! Apparently they were an epic success

  9. says

    Did you see that link I recently posted on facebook? The Eat, Pray, Love clip of Julia Roberts in the pizza parlor in Napoli? Well if you haven’t, you need to now: Enjoy the holidays, lady. Bring on the cookies, cream, and enchiladas.

    • says

      Facebook doesn’t tell me anything anymore! Gah. I totally had a relationship with this pizza in Crested Butte. Now that you live in Colorado, I insist that you make it to The Secret Stash and eat some for me. I don’t care how long the drive is, it is so so so worth it. Happy holidays to you, too, Kelsey.

  10. Mary says

    Hi Kate,
    I live in New Orleans…Some friends of mine told me about your website so I signed up for your emails…the blackbean enchiladas are your 1st recipe that I tried and I love them! I used gluten free Brown Rice tortillas (Food for Life brand) which were perfect b/c they are sturdy and did not fall apart …there are only 6 in a bag so I made 6 large enchiladas. I made a few modifications…used 1/2 the amount of cheese (also trying to fit in my pants after Thanksgiving :)), the entire 10oz box of frozen spinach, 2 4oz cans of green chiles and 1/8 teaspoon of chipotle powder that I had on hand. I can’t wait to try another one of your recipes.

    • says

      Hi Mary, thank you so much for taking the time to comment. I’m delighted that your friends recommended my blog and that you’re enjoying my recipe. Your substitutions sound like great ones. Please do let me know how the other recipes turn out, and happy holidays!

  11. Elly says

    I tried these the other night without chiles, coriander (cilantro!) or corn – I just didn’t have them around – and they were still simply to die for! Thanks for this gorgeous recipe. Greetings from the UK :-)

  12. Tricia says

    These are absolutely delicious AND filling! My husband is not a vegetarian so I made two separate pans and added shredded chicken to his. Next time I make them, I may be adding some fresh jalapenos instead of the canned chiles. I like my Mexican with more of a kick and the heat would go well with the avocados on top! Thanks Kate!

    • says

      Thanks, Tricia! I’m glad to hear that you made the enchiladas work for both of you. Jalapenos sound like a great idea—I love extra-spicy food but I try to tone it down for blog recipes. :)

  13. Aaron says

    THIS IS NOT GOOD! DO NOT RECOMMEND MAKING. There are too many ingredients that do not mix well with each other. I fed this to my entire family and it was voted one of the worst meals we have ever had.

    • says

      I’m sorry to hear that you and your family didn’t enjoy the recipe, Aaron. The flavors might not be for everyone, but I personally enjoyed every bite.

  14. Becky Eason says

    Oh my gosh! These popped up on Ziplist yesterday, and I knew I had to try them. They were fantastic and so darned good for you! This is going to become a “go-to”recipe for me, and I can’t wait to share with friends. Thanks!

  15. Megan L. says

    If I use fresh spinach (chopped) instead of frozen, what adjustments do you think I should make? Adding a bit more water?

  16. Megan L. says

    This was delicious. My husband and 2.5 yr old also loved it. I made a couple of adjustments. I used an entire 10 ounce bag of organic frozen spinach. But I thought it was a bit too “spinachy” so next time I will just use 8 ounces as recommended. I added some seasonings to the filling mixture as I cooked it stovetop. I added a few shakes of cumin, coriander, and chipotle chili powder. Next time I think I will add a little extra chipotle chili powder, as I could barely taste it. I used whole wheat tortillas as I was unable to find any Non-GMO corn tortillas. (I will look for some at Whole Foods next time I am there.) I also added a little bit of extra lime juice to the red pepper sauce. And extra cilantro to the avocado topping (because I love cilantro!) I used a combo of Pepper Jack cheese and Monterey Jack cheeses for the topping. However, I think I might use all Pepper Jack cheese next time to add a bit more spice. The red pepper sauce was delicious! Now I’m thinking of all kinds of dishes I could make using roasted red pepper sauce. Yum! Thanks for the great recipe!

    • says

      Thank you for your fantastic feedback, Megan! I’m sorry I didn’t answer your question about fresh spinach sooner. I think you could substitute it without making any other adjustments. So glad you enjoyed the enchiladas. Your subs sound great. I’m all for more lime, cilantro and spice!

  17. Whitney says

    I cant wait to make these this weekend! We’re slowly working through all your pancake recipes and have loved them! Just wondering if this can be frozen?

  18. says

    Delicious recipe! My “but where’s the meat?” boyfriend loved it too. I’ve made it twice now: The first time we loved all the flavors, but craved more sauce and more heat. So the second time I added two diced jalapenos to the filling (sauteed with the onions), and doubled the sauce recipe (but not the water). Might even triple it next time… yum.

    • says

      That’s awesome, I’m glad you both loved the enchiladas! I’m always a fan of more heat and more flavor, your sauce additions sound great!

  19. Gwen says

    I just found this blog and I love it. I made Black Bean Enchiladas with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce for dinner and it was so scrumptious. It is definitely a keeper in my recipe book. The roasted red pepper sauce and the cilantro, lime, and avocado topping really makes it. I did used fresh spinach and fresh corn from the cob. I also substituted the feta cheese for jalapeno pepper jack. The same night I made the maple blueberry tea bread. The maple is what got me since I have been craving a maple donut from VooDoo donut in Portland. It was luscious! Thanks for the recipes Kate!

  20. Jim says

    Hi. I made these for the second time tonight. The first time my wife thought they were ok but she felt unsatisfied. This second time I made them for a dinner party. I am slowly moving our family in the vegetarian direction. I was nervous about making these for a dinner party, especially since one of the guests is known to be a very good cook among our friends. I decided to go all in and stretch it by trying this again since I found the sauce to be incredible and the filling to be very satisfying. Well, it went very well. (I made three of them for the two five-year-old kids that just had corn, beans and cheese – they ate them all up.) Everyone ate everything. I also made this to go with it which was great:

    I also cut up watermelon and white peaches as a desert. I mention these two things since it took me like an hour to think of what to make with it. I highly recommend the cabbage salad from the link there since it counters the enchilada flavors well. Next time I may make the enchiladas more spicy with some Serrano peppers instead of the mild jalapeños I used.

    Thank you Kate once again. This was really great and contributed to one of the best dinner parties I’ve had. Keep up the good work.


    • says

      Hey Jim, thank you so much for your comment. I’m really delighted to hear that the enchiladas went over well at your dinner party! Thank you for sharing your other menus items, too. I’m not great at coming up with full menus myself, since I’m usually cooking for one. I never would have thought to pair the enchiladas with slaw, but that one sounds like a marvelous side item. And you can never go wrong with fresh seasonal fruit for dessert!

  21. Christine says

    We made this Friday night for dinner. Me, my husband, and my mom all really liked it. We will definitely make it again, and my mom wanted the recipe, too. We added some chili powder, cumin powder, and garlic powder to the black bean & spinach mixture, for a little more mexican flavor. Thanks for the recipe!

  22. Shrini says

    Hi Kate, I plan on making this for a dinner and wanted to know what size tortillas are best to use? I seem to only be able to find the mini ones in my local grocery store.

    Also, I made the red pepper sauce last night, and wanted to know if the consistency should be very liquidy? I tasted it, and it was really oniony– is that normal? Will that cook down when I bake it?

    Thank you again! All of your recipes look so good, and I can’t wait to try more of them out in the future!!

    • says

      Shrini, so sorry for my delayed response. I used tortillas that are about 6 inches across, the standard small size. Yes, the sauce tastes oniony at first but it mellows out as it bakes.

  23. Poli says

    Hi Kate.

    I made the enchiladas last week, and it came out fantastic. I used piquillo peppers to make the sauce. I will make again this week. I love your blog. I will keep trying your recipes. 

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